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Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman
Site number:
Type of site: Cultural
Date: 2500BC-500AD
Date of Inscription: 2006
Location: Middle East, Oman, Dakhiliya, Sharqiya and Batinah Regions
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Six official UN languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish
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Description: The site consists of five aflaj irrigation systems and characterizes about 3,000 similar systems still being used in Oman. This irrigation system may date back to 500 A.D., though archaeological evidence implies that irrigation systems have figured in this vastly arid area as early as 2,500 B.C. Aflaj is the plural version of falaj – the meaning of which in classical Arabic is to divide into shares and equitable division of a limited resource to guarantee sustainability; a continuing characteristic of this irrigation system. To support agriculture and domestic use, water is conducted from underground sources or springs, often over many kilometers, through the utilization of gravity. The just and efficient administration and sharing of water in villages and towns is still supported by communal dependence and shared values; it is governed by astronomical observations. Forming part of the listed property are several watchtowers that were erected to defend the water systems, their inscription indicates the community’s historic dependence on the aflaj system. The site also encompasses mosques, houses, sundials, and water auction buildings, which are linked with the aflaj. The aflaj, threatened by the lowering level of the underground water table, characterize a remarkably well-preserved form of land use. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available. For 360 degree imaging of this site, click here.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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